At the beginning of the year, my friend Jan and I started a series we called Gatherings, a monthly post based on a time we had extra people around our table, or in our backyard – there have been birthday parties (OK, a few birthday parties) and a big pot of meatballs, pecan waffles with wine smoothies and music-inspired cocktails. I was in Toronto on Monday-Tuesday and we got together to work on a project and as we sat on the hotel room beds, laptops and books and room service calamari and wings spread across both, Jan, who is far more on the ball than I, pointed out that we were due for a post in a couple days. Apparently it’s the last week of August.
(People in Tofino gathering for their annual Lantern Festival at the botanical gardens 2 weeks ago.)
So yesterday, Jan wrote about cousin camp – an annual summer thing where she has her nieces and nephews over for an epic three-day sleepover – brilliant idea, don’t you think? And because I’m not in a position to host my own cousin camp this weekend, I thought I’d share some burgers we fed friends back in early June – an idea my own cousin (Steve!) shared with me. Or shared on Facebook and I saw it. Whatevs. They made us all very happy.
I thought these might come in handy if feeding people – or even just yourself – is a part of your long weekend plans. (If not, these might provide a reason to get a few pals together.) You take ground beef and shape a patty around a little wheel of Babybel cheese, then grill it. Brilliant, non? Babybel is such a smooth, creamy, melty cheese – it gets all gooey in the middle and lies in wait for you to release its ooze with your first bite. It’s an inside-out cheeseburger.
You could, of course, use whatever secret blend of ground meat, breadcrumbs and spices you love to make your burgers out of; my preferred method is to handle ground beef or bison as little as possible, sprinkling it with salt and pepper and that’s about it. Until those Babybels came along and made everything better. Shape the meat around the cheese, sealing it in. That’s about it.
Once the cheese is gooey in the middle, you know your burger is cooked through.
A delicious doneness test.
Want fries with that? How about fries doused in garlic and Parmesan? Done.
Happy long weekend everyone! See you in September.
Garlicky Parmesan Fries
2 lb. russet potatoes, cut lengthwise into even sticks
¼ cup canola or olive oil (not extra-virgin)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with half the oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a heavy, rimmed baking sheet. Roast the potatoes, turning occasionally, for 20 minutes, or until pale golden and soft.
Whisk the garlic into the remaining oil. Remove the fries from the oven, drizzle with the garlicky oil, sprinkle with Parmesan and gently toss on the sheet to coat.
Turn the heat up to 450°F and bake for another 10 minutes, until golden and crisp. Serve immediately.